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Saturday, October 30, 2010

APRICOT SOUFFLÉ WITH VANILLA RUM CRÈME ANGLAISE

Apricot soufflé and some creme anglaise to join it..

First let's talk a bit about magic… What is it that makes a souffle expand and makes the people who eat it go: Ahhhhh as it get's to the table? Look no further than the magic of air.. 

So what is a good souffle? well, a good one is in many ways a lesser one. Ofcourse taste and aroma are important but the structure and form and texture are even more important. And the presence of air trapped in the egg whites is even more valuable. So, in many ways, the best souffle is the one that has the most air in it or in other words the less souffle makes me most souffle :-) 


Been playing around with them in the past and apart from the obvious chocolate ones that you can find everywhere the rest are not as well known.. So… will talk about a favorite souffle that lately i have been baking again and again for us and guests. 

To get to the magic… A few things that need to be told before we start. Eggs are made up from the yolks and whites. Whites are all protein while yolks have some protein but a lot of fat too. Have to keep that in mind. Also when we make a souffle we make a meringue which is to beat the egg whites and by that trap air in the egg whites into tiny little bubbles. So the protein in the egg whites forms the bubbles, the structure for the souffle. Fat on the other hand keeps those bubbles break or not forming and air escaping from them so make sure that there is no trace of yolk in your whites when separating your eggs. 

Then the heat plays a great role. Heat actually does two things. First of all heat makes air expand and those millions and millions tiny bubbles of air take more space and that is what makes the souffle pop and double in size but also another thing that it does is to coagulate the egg white proteins (change their molecular shape in space) and make them sturdy and strong. There are other ways to coagulate proteins apart from heating. You can use and acid like lemon juice etc but that is for another recipy down the road. 

What this coagulation does though is to stiff the structure of the souffle and so when the heat is not there anymore, the souffle more or less keeps it's shape. Also another great thing about that is that you can have the souffle ready from a previous day, already baked and the day of the dinner just to pop it in the oven to heat up and expand making your guests wonder about your culinary skills. 

A few more things… Souffle because it can be done with some fruit juice, a bit of sugar and egg whites is a desert with few calories and high in protein. On the other hand my version here with the creme anglaise and all takes the fat and puts it back in the desert but oh well! Tastes a lot better, in my mind atlas.


APRICOT SOUFFLÉ WITH VANILLA RUM CRÈME ANGLAISE
Fills 12, 100 ml ramekins. 
180 gr dried apricots (about 1 ½ cups), quartered. Use the California ones you get in the silver bag unless you can get really good Kaisia.
1 ½ cups water
¾ cup sugar plus additional for coating ramekins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dark rum if desired
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
5 large egg whites
Crème Anglaise:
1 cup cream
1 cup milk
half a teaspoon of vanilla extract 5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum, or to taste

In a saucepan simmer the apricots, sugar (1/2 cup) and water. Keep the pan with the lid on. Do that for 20 minutes or until apricots are soft. Transfer the mixture (keeping some juice on the side) in a food processor and process until it is a smooth puree. Add some or all of the reserved juice if the puree seems too thick. Get a chinois or a tapis or a sieve and pass the puree from there to become more velvety and smooth. (structure is the essence we said). To the strained puree add the lemon juice, vanilla, rum and a little bit of salt to exalt the aromas. Let it cool into room temperature and you can keep in the fridge for a few days. At the day of use let it out of the fridge till it gets warm again. 

Butter the 12 ramekins and sprinkle with sugar to coat. Turn the oven on at 180 celcious.  

In a very CLEAN bowl (important as if it has traces of fat or oil it will ruin the meringue) beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt. Salt helps with coagulation. Also the point of the meringue is to have millions and millions of tiny air bubbles and not less but bigger ones. We have said that  the structure is important and a better structure is easier to maintain if the protein bubbles are more and smaller than if they are less and bigger. The way to do that is to beat the whites slowly and steadily and not just zap them in the mixer at top speed.

Meringue is ready when it forms soft peaks and has lost it's shine. Do not overbeat it and let it form firm peaks as this may result in problems when incorporating the puree. Slowly mix the remaining 1/4 cups  sugar in that mixture. Add about a third of the meringue in the puree mixture and slowly incorporate it. The amount of bubbles is important so take care not to beat in the whites but rather massage them slowly in the puree. Then add the remaining two thirds of egg whites one third at a time… make sure that the mixture is all one and devide it in the ramekins. 

You have two choices here. One is to do this some hours before the dinner and let the uncooked mixture stay in the ramekins in room temperature and it will be just fine or bake it then and there and let it coo, store it in the fridge for up to 4 days and just before dinner reheat it in order to serve it just when your guests have finished the main course.. 

Now.. If you want to take it all a step further then make the creme Anglaise. 
That cream is quite important as it is the base for many things. From sauces to icecreams so it is good to know how it is made. What it is, is a mixture of eff yolks, sugar and cream or cream and milk.  Egg yolks as we've said contain some protein and a lot of fat. Also there is far in the cream so cream Anglaise is by no means something to be eaten while you are on a diet. On the other hand a little taste never hurt anybody so here we go…

In a saucepan heat the milk and cream till it boils. Remove from heat. 
In a bowl beat the eggs with sugar till it is nice and frothy… Very slowly start adding the cream in the egg mixture. VERY SLOWLY. That will allow the eggs and cream to mix without the eggs being cooked from the high temperature of the cream but will slowly rise the temperature of the egg mixture. When one third of the cream is in the eggs empty all that back in the saucepan and put it back on the fire.. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon till the cream thickens and covers the back of the spoon. DO NOT let it boil otherwise you will get an omelet and not a creme… 

When it is ready pass it through a sieve, add the vanilla extract and the rum.. Let it cool and put it in the fridge to cool. Add a few spoonfuls of the cold creme to the hot souffle as it comes out f the oven… 

4 comments:

  1. Yannis it is so beautiful and looks very good.

    ReplyDelete
  2. lovely recipee and very interesting blog!
    all my best!
    stephania

    ReplyDelete
  3. hello Yannis, here Demetrio (Carlos´friend), very nice and sweet blog... Remember our meeting in Kifilisis?...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hello Demetrio! Ofcourse i remember. How can i forget?
    Hugs and my best to Carlo as well!

    ReplyDelete